The secret quarter peal

the protege band

Some time ago I had one of those cross-purpose conversations with another ringer, in which I thought he was suggesting I rang a quarter of Plain Bob Major on tower bells and I reminded him that I was “not that sort of ringer”. He looked confused and insisted that I was and when he mentioned the trebles I realised he meant in hand, and happily agreed.  The opportunity to ring handbells with someone different is always welcome and we decided to invite two other ringers for a particular reason – to say thank you to someone who over the past 2 years has been the driving force behind turning 2 of us into handbell ringers, reminding one of us why they rang handbells many decades ago (it is actually cracking good fun), and cajoling and supporting a fourth person to give them a try. Other than me, the others are all Proper Peal Ringers, but somewhere along the way handbells were spurned in favour of tower bells.  Now they are back in hand and they all relish that fact, whilst I am grateful that I have found a branch of change ringing that I am reasonably competent at, rather than forever the squeaky wheel that has everyone else grimacing and biting their tongues not to say anything too crushing.

A band was formed and practice began – first on-line and then in person. It has taken us a few attempts, but we have finally achieved the quarter peal.  Along the way I have become much more robust as a ringer because mistakes have been made and I have learnt to carry on regardless, sticking to my line and trusting that things will right themselves.  Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. The original proposer of the endeavour has successfully conducted his first handbell quarter on 8 and it did demand “conducting” rather than mere bob calling, and the least experienced handbell ringer has grown tremendously in confidence. The last member of the group has learnt to stay awake and to not be distracted by the sound of a dog pleasuring himself directly behind her chair.

Above all the journey has been fun and we have managed to keep our tempers and forgive each other their transgressions because we have ourselves transgressed.

What will we attempt next and who will we attempt it with? Four more handbell ringers to add to the fold, all capable of striding out into the handbell ringing world and encouraging others to share the joy.  Thanks are due to our mentor and champion, Nikki Thomas, who has prodded and poked and plotted her way from the Clanging Belles’ first tentative plain hunting on 6, through another daily on-line group of gentlemen ringers, and extending her tentacles into a neighbouring county and drawing another ringer in.  These three different strands of ringers have now knitted themselves together and proved that they are able to take things forward independently.

So thank you Nikki. You probably are not aware of all that you contribute to ringing and what a difference you make. But we know that without your help and encouragement, our recent entry of 1264 PB8 on Bellboard would not have been possible. That is why we dedicate it to you, our friend and mentor. 


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